PCH Exec Cold, then Sold on Co-Reg
By Ken Magill
After having sworn it off, Sal Tripi has embraced co-registration as an email list-building tactic again.
The assistant vice president, digital operations and compliance for Publishers Clearing House had had enough bad experiences with co-registration he thought he was done with it forever.
But the folks at marketing services firm eWayDirect convinced him to try it one more time.
Email co-registration—in which marketers strike some sort of deal to have an offer such as an e-mail newsletter subscription, free sample or discount presented to another organization's website visitors—has had many critics over the years.
And for good reason.
The combination of marketers willing to cut corners in order to build their lists faster and vendors motivated by money to deliver as much volume as possible has resulted in some seriously bad data changing hands.
At best, names from a sloppy co-registration deal are a non-responsive waste of the marketer's budget. At worst, sending to these names can result in spam complaints from recipients to their Internet service providers, possibly resulting e-mail deliverability troubles and the ruination of the marketer’s email reputation.
Tripi decided a long time ago he was no longer willing to take that risk.
Then, he says, at the request of a colleague he agreed to take a meeting with some executives from eWayDirect knowing they were going to pitch him on their co-registration scheme.
“We’re very dependent on email to deliver our message. We have a highly engaged user community,” said Tripi. “Our emails average a 32 to 35 percent click rate. And we have an aggressive mailing program where we mail pretty frequently. So maintaining good data quality and good delivery is key.”
Tripi’s previous experience with co-reg resulted in low-quality data, he said. For one thing, new registrants don’t always provide accurate information.
“There are also a lot of suspect providers in that industry,” he added. “The people who provided accurate information were diamonds, but they were surrounded by so much muck and mire. So I just abandoned the channel.
“eWayDirect was referred to me so I gave them a courtesy visit, but I told them on the way in: ‘You’re here as a courtesy so help yourself to the coffee and doughnuts but your chances of success are slim to none.’”
At the end of the meeting, eWayDirect had a sale. How?
“The controls they have in place where I can throttle [sources] on and off based on the number of invalids, number of unopened emails, number of unsubscribes, number of complaints allows me to control incoming volume at the source level,” said Tripi. “I’m able to gauge who’s engaged, who’s not and open up the throttles only where there is a track record of success.”
Moreover, Tripi said he doesn’t add email addresses gained through eWayDirect’s co-reg program until the address holders visit a corresponding Publishers Clearing House web page, fill out a registration form that requires them to enter their names and addresses, and reaffirm that they want email from PCH.
“So when I get them into my system, I know I’ve got somebody that, one, opened an email, two clicked on an email, three, took the time to fill out those fields and, four, said twice that they want to get those emails,” he said. “Those people are gold to me.”
Tripi added that so far he’s been very cautious so co-reg names are “not a huge portion of my business. But the hope is it represents a bigger and bigger portion of my acquisition business going forward.”
One way eWayDirect protects its co-reg clients is its system analyzes incoming email addresses by source, according to Neil Rosen, president and CEO of eWayDirect.
“We look at every co-reg lead that comes in, not from the vendor, but from the actual source or URL,” he said. “You may buy a million leads from one company, but you’re really buying them from a thousand different pages. Our system will automatically shut down any risky lead source.
“Now that the risky lead sources are gone, we throttle the non-risky lead sources by performance—opens, clicks and conversions,” Rosen added. “In addition, we cleanse all the incoming leads for everything from valid email addresses to potential spam traps.”
As a result, he said, “month after month you’re getting a higher percentage of leads coming from your highest-performing, lowest-risk lead sources.”
eWayDirect also has strict rules governing the behavior of co-reg data suppliers, according to Rosen.
For one thing, the company allows no prechecked permission boxes.
“Two,” Rosen said, “it has to name the company you’re going to be getting email from. Three, it has to tell you you’re going to be getting email. It has to be something like ‘click here to get emails from Publishers Clearing House.’ It can’t be something like ‘click here to get emails about computers.’
“It’s what we call free-will opt in,” said Rosen.
Also, the first email the new registrant receives must relate directly to the offer they signed up for, said Rosen.
“If the ad says ‘click here for a coupon for 15 percent off,’ the first email has to say: ‘Here is your 15 percent off coupon,” said Rosen. “We call it flow of promise. You make a promise, you keep a promise.”
Author’s note: I ran across this story while presenting eWayDirect’s Magill Report Fantasy Football League championship trophy and Lebanon bologna sausage football in their offices in Connecticut. My guess is there are others who are making co-reg work for them. Feel free to tout the programs in the comments section or reach out to me directly: KenMagill_at_gmail.com.